Abdur Rahim

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School



South Dakota is one of the most sparsely populated states in the nation. According to 1980 census data, the population density of this predominantly agricultural state is 9.1 persons per square mile, compared to a national density average of 64.0 persons per square mile. The human occupation of South Dakota is characterized by population trends and patterns which exhibit a variety of spatial forms and considerable dynaminism over time. After opening of the settlement frontier in the mid nineteenth century, South Dakota began attracting many immigrants and settlers. The population of the state reached its zenith in 1930, declined during the Depression and drought years of the thirties and experienced moderate growth from the 1940s until 1960. During the 1960s, the state's population declined slightly. Again a population growth trend is evident in the 1980 census. The 1980 population, however, remained below 1930 level. A detailed analysis of the population of South Dakota from a geographic perspective has never been attempted. This study represents an attempt to fill this existing gap in our understanding of the state's population conditions and patterns. Geography is one of many disciplines which includes the formal study of human population as an integral component. Population study in geography is concerned with the way in which the human population is distributed through space and time together with various factors which generate changes in the spatio-temporal patterns. The geographer's view of population is broad and comprehensive. Like demographers, geographers are concerned with data, but they study population mainly as a part of geographic landscape. It is the geographer's role to analyze population trends and patterns of a particular area at a particular time in terms of different variables which include many physical, cultural, and environmental factors. A geographic study of population is very important in order to adopt and implement effective settlement, land use, and resource planning strategies. Such a study gives planners and decision makers a better understanding about the population situation of an area in terms of a number of variables which are directly influencing its population patterns and trends. Objectives of the Study The main objectives of this study are as follow: 1. To examine the trends in population growth and decline in South Dakota counties from 1880 to 1980. 2. To identify the factors influencing the population growth and decline in South Dakota counties and, 3. To evaluate the past and present density patterns of South Dakota's population.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Population geography

Population density -- South Dakota



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University